The good, the meh and the complete waste of money – 2018’s Super Bowl ads

With reports surfacing this year that a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl will cost upwards of US$5 million, all eyes are on the brands and ads throwing their weight - and wallets - behind the big game. Here, BBH Singapore copywriters Stephanie Gwee and Khairul Mondzi give their thought on the brands' sneak peaks

Khairul Mondzi: Money. Time. That’s practically all you need to score a Super Bowl ad (me thinks). But to make it a touchdown, now that’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Sure, we all look forward to the ads, to see how brands flex their creative, as well as financial (man, how much did they pay to do that) muscles. So I guess it’s important to get people to really look forward to wanting to see your ad to make that investment count. And that means, teasers. Yes, teasers.

Khairul Mondzi

This year, some have kept to that brief, some, not so much. And some, have made it seem like it’s the actual ad itself – there’s nothing really to look forward to.

So how I’ve judged this year’s lead-up to the Super Bowl ads is based on how much a particular brand has made me really look forward to the magic that they’re going to reveal on game day.

Stephanie Gwee: This year, it isn’t just the ads themselves that set people talking. More brands and agencies are being a lot smarter and more strategic when it comes to building interest and suspense before the ad runs. So the emphasis for more effective commercials starts weeks before Super Bowl, with a series of teaser ads to get people talking.

Stephanie Gwee

M&Ms did this really well, by releasing a teaser of critics reviewing the commercial, weeks before Super Bowl. And Skittles – oh, can they do no wrong – was an absolute legend with their David Schwimmer “could this be the Skittles ad?” teaser videos. Really makes the case for why ads work a whole lot better when they come with a well thought-out plan to get people looking out for it in the first place.  

Ads we liked

Amazon – Alexa loses here voice

KM:Ballsy, yet not exactly showing product failure. Having Alexa lose her voice (or has she?) makes her human. And we all can’t wait to see what’s it all about.”

SG:Gotta say, the teaser was pretty intriguing. Perhaps it’s the high production value, or the vague storyline, that makes me want to keep an eye out for it during the game.”

Doritos and Mountain Dew

KM:Big brands, big names, in perhaps an even bigger showdown. The least likely characters are going to go head to head in who knows how it’s going to turn out, and, two brands? What’s that about? Can’t wait to see.”

SG:Quirky, fun, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Very much a fan of this, and would be looking out for it on game day! Also, smart use of marketing dollars to do an ad that sells both Mountain Dew and Doritos – economical for the smaller budgets these days.”

Tourism Australia – ‘DUNDEE: The Son Of A Legend Returns Home’

KM: “Zero advertising, unless you’re looking at the entire film as an ad, which is brilliant in  my mind. Sitting to pay and watch a two-hour ad, that’s something money can’t really  buy. Plus, we all grew up watching Paul Hogan and his huge “That’s a knife” antics,  wrestling crocs and making it big in The Big Apple. The limelight’s on his loud-mouthed American son this time, heading back to the outback to find the man Mr Dundee himself who’s apparently lost? I wanna watch this one.”

Skittles – Super Important Super Bowl News

KM:As always, the rainbow candy never fails to entertain and entice. And it’s great that the context of the Super Bowl is the subject. Looking forward to the “Super Important” news.”

SG:Ahhhhh Skittles – if there’s a creative out there who says they won’t want to work on the Skittles account, they are probably lying. Skittles was an absolute legend with their ad this year. From David Schwimmer’s brilliant “could this be the Skittles ad” teasers, to the downright brilliant concept of just showing the ad to one person to get maximum curiosity and interest. Gotta be one of those “fuck, that’s genius” campaigns of the year. Props to Skittles.”

Budweiser – Stand By You

KM:There’s another one worthy of mention – Bud’s Stand By You. This one’s not much of a teaser at the mo, but it does give you the feels. Hardworking Americans, being there for other hardworking Americans during hard times, in the hardest working sport in America. Love the mood, the emotion, the meaning. And when everyone gets together on game day, that’s pretty much what it’s all about, getting together, being there for and supporting each other (like a football team), isn’t it?”

SG: “I love that the company really did send out cans of water to people in need. The ad itself was also pretty lovely, certainly made me feel a little warm and fuzzy. And I’m sure it would speak to many Americans.”

Pringles – Wow

KM:This one’s quite funny, but it tries hard to be a bit too quirky, awkward and random. Feels somewhat of an owned territory, some rainbow-coloured candy kind of owned territory.”

SG: “Agree with Khai that the ad feels a little like something Skittles would do. That said, while the ad itself was okay, there’s something interesting about Pringles creating a whole new way of eating the product. For a category that’s so saturated, it’s pretty genius getting people to stack their chips to create new flavours (and create a reason to buy two or three bottles of Pringles). For a product standpoint, this is pretty gold.”

Ads that are basically ‘Meh that’s alright’ 

Diet Coke –Because I Can 

KM and SG:Yes, we know we can.”

SG: “What a royal waste of time and money. Zero idea, boring execution. And if I have to hear another brand tell me “just do you!” or do it “because you can”, my eyes simply can’t roll far back enough.”

M&Ms – Danny Devito

KM:We all love Danny, so that’s probably the only thing that’s saving this ad.”

SG:Danny Devito in a pool of chocolate. Danny Devito as a red M&M. Danny Devito makes the ad worth watching, but that’s pretty much it.”

Groupon – Who wouldn’t support local businesses 

KM: “Footballers appearing in your ad, that sounds like a first-thought idea for a Super Bowl  ad. And, the big juggernaut of a business empire wanting to take down the small local boys all sound too familiar to me.”

SG:Yet another waste of time and money. First thought idea, and celebrity endorsements didn’t make it any better. It ties with Coke for being the most ‘meh’ ad so far.”


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